Obecní dům to operate Šlechtova restaurace

The landmark building in Stromovka park should reopen in early 2020

The area around Šlechtova restaurace in Prague’s Stromovka park has long been a popular place to hang out, but the restaurant itself is in ruins. The protected cultural landmark has faced neglect, fire and floods, and has been closed for decades.

Current repair work on the building, which traces its roots back to a 17th-century hunting lodge, is due to finish at the end of the year. In spring 2020 the restaurant should reopen to the public, and the city firm Obecní dům a.s. will be responsible for managing the building.

The building will have a restaurant and also host lectures, exhibitions and other cultural events. The Prague 7 Town Hall plans to organize official ceremonial events there as well, and allow it to be used for weddings.

“The work at Šlechtova restaurace, that is the construction part, should end on Dec. 31 of this year. At that time, the tenant and the operator have to be selected,” Jan Wolf (KDU-ČSL) chairman of the City Hall Culture Committee, told the press.

Renovation began in 2016, some 40 years after it closed.

He said City Hall in the coming weeks will transfer Šlechtova restaurace to the joint-stock company Obecní dům, which has experience operating the Municipal House, called Obecní dům in Czech. The Art Nouveau building is a popular tourist attraction and concert venue, with restaurants and a cafe inside.

“The firm is going to look for the most suitable operator. It will have to buy equipment for the operating areas and kitchen. The opening of the culinary environment is estimated in April or May 2020,” Wolf said.

Plans to renovate the building have been discussed since the 1990s, but the damage from a fire in the 1980s made potential repairs expensive and negotiations over what to do had long been stalled.

The renovation approved by the previous coalition led by then-mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) was originally projected at about Kč 250 million. The project was then redesigned and simplified by architects to bring the cost down to Kč 120 million.

Šlechtova restaurace began as a royal summer hunting lodge when Stromovka was still a game reserve for the royal family.

It was built between 1689 and 1692, paid for by Count Kryštof František Vratislav z Mitrovic, as a gift for Emperor Leopold I.

When the park became a military grounds in the first half of the 18th century, the lodge was damaged and later it was used as a warehouse for grain and hay.

In the middle of the 19th century, Stromovka was opened to the public as a park.

In 1855 and 1856, the building was rebuilt according to the plans of architect Bernard Grueber in the Neo-Gothic style as the garden restaurant.

In 1883 Václav Šlechta opened a famous restaurant there that gives it its current name. His family operated it until the beginning of World War II.

After the war, the restaurant was still partially in operation, but the building was dilapidated and eventually closed, after the Šlechta refused to turn the restaurant operations over to the then-communist government.

It was declared a cultural landmark in 1964, but left to fall into ruins.

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